Eric Gordon working to boost his NBA stock and strength

Hoops players in tonight’s NBA draft aren’t the only ones trying to increase their stock.

Former Indiana University player Eric Gordon is working hard to boost his stock—and strength—this summer.

Gordon hired IU basketball strength and conditioning coach Jeff Watkinson this summer to help him toughen up. Watkinson left IU to devote his time to Gordon, who is especially intent on improving his stamina and upper body strength.

Already touted as one of the stronger guards in the NBA, Gordon is also trying to limit his injuries.

In his second season, Gordon increased his per-game scoring average to 16.9 from 16.1 his rookie season. But he missed 20 games due to injury, which caused him some concern about his off-season training.

Watkinson specializes in strength training, athletic development, conditioning and nutritional guidance. The Chicago native obtained his master’s degree in exercise science in 1996 from IU.

Watkinson returned to Bloomington after spending five seasons at Missouri as the director of strength and conditioning for the Tigers’ men’s basketball team. Prior to Missouri, he worked at Clemson (1999-2001), Charlotte (1997-99) and College of Charleston (1996-97).

Watkinson began his college studies in 1989 at Kishwaukee College in Illinois, where he was a member of the baseball team while earning an associate's degree in pre-medicine. He then earned a baseball scholarship to North Carolina State University. He played two years with the Wolfpack baseball team (1991-1993) and graduated with a pre-medicine degree in 1993.

Watkinson obtained certification with the National Strength and Conditioning Association during his stint at IU.

Sources close to Gordon, a North Central High School graduate, said his agent, former University of Michigan basketball player, Rob Pelinka, urged he up his off-season training.

Gordon is entering the third year of his four-year rookie contract. The Clippers have until Oct. 31 to exercise an option on Gordon’s fourth year. If all goes well, Gordon should make about $3.8 million for the Clippers during the 2011-12 season.

But the much bigger prize could come when Gordon’s rookie contract expires and he hits the free agent market. That’s why Pelinka wants to protect his investment in Gordon now.

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